I’m seated by the entrance of the NTV newsroom. Everyone is paying attention to their computer. I‘m paying mine to two gentlemen seated behind one computer. Both are “heavy” fellas but one stands out. He is muscular. His shirt’s sleeves are clearly overstretched by his bulging biceps. Some folk passing by him call him “bouncer”, in jest.
His name is Ivan Kyeyune. His fans call him Zungulu, I later learn. Zungulu is a satirical feature that runs every Friday during the NTV Ku saawa emu ( the 7pm Luganda weekend news bulletin) on NTV. Kyeyune is behind the silvery voice that leaves many in offices, homes and bars, in stitches.
It is a Friday afternoon. Kyeyune (the other “heavy” fella I was talking about) and Zungulu’s producer, Frank Walusimbi are sharing notes about the skit to be aired later in the evening. I am not within earshot so I cannot hear what they are discussing. But I can see what is on the computer screen before them.
Footage of Jennifer Musisi, KCCA’s Executive Director at a soccer match is showing. She is flailing her arms in celebration, of, I think, scoring a goal. The clip is stopped. The duo converse briefly and then play a new video recording.
It bears Kawempe Mayor Mubarak Munyagwa at what seems like a demonstration. This one is also stopped to give way to a chat between the two. At the tail end of the activity, Kyeyune walks up to me, takes my hand and leads me to the voice booth to see him do the voice over.
Zungulu was born
For the last three years, the 27-year-old has been visiting the booth to voice the satirical feature, Zungulu . It is no surprise he is confident behind the microphone.
I inquire whether his attitude was the same on day one. He giggles, adjusts the sunglasses perched on his forehead then answers in the affirmative. “I had the benefit of the experience as an active radio presenter at Radio Simba. So I was not nervous,” he says, “However, I was not sure about the viewers’ reception of Zungulu. Our goal was to make them laugh, but we were not certain that they would.”
Kyeyune did not watch the maiden clip of Zungulu. He was in the gym. He says he goes to the gym to relax his mind ( but from the sight of him, it is obvious that the results are more than getting a peace of mind). He has earned muscle growth. At the end of the workout session, he found several missed calls and messages on his phone.
“People were calling and texting to inform me that they had heard my voice on a humorous video recordings that had been aired on NTV. They congratulated me and the team on coming up with a unique and humorous idea,” he says.
If the high number of views the Zungulu clips that have registered on YouTube, are anything to go by, the idea was a success. In fact, Kyeyune offers that it is the shortest piece on all the local televisions that has a sponsor.
“You can imagine it lasts only five minutes. There are programmes that last 30 minutes yet they do not have sponsors,” he states.
Kyeyune’s potential as the suitable person to make Zungulu triumphant was spotted while he hosted a sports show at Radio Simba. He says his point of uniqueness was that he paid more attention to the humorous side of a soccer match than the other commentators did.
“Anyone can say so and so has the ball, he has passed it on to so and so and a goal has been scored. I chose to approach my commentary from a lighter angle,” he says. “I came up with nicknames for almost all the players. For example, I called Wayne Rooney “Kyakabale” because of his energy.
Didier Drogba was “Amanda” and Arsene Wenger was “Katadooba”.” His good sense of humour (cracked me up a couple of times during the interview) which he attributes his success to, saw him appointed to do other shows. Today, he hosts Tokkamalirawo a prime time call-in show on Radio Simba that runs from 4pm to 7pm.
Education and family expectations
Kyeyune’s father, Steven Kayizi, did not prepare his son to earn from the media. He foresaw him in a hospital or clinic treating the sick. He thus labelled him “doctor” from as early as Senior One while at Mulusa Academy in Wobulenzi – where he had his secondary school education.
The 27-year-old also had hopes of being one because he excelled at sciences. At A-Level, he studied Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Agriculture.